An Open Letter to Jon Stewart about the “The Fault in Our Schools”

Dear Jon Stewart,

Kudos to you and correspondents Jessica Williams and Jordan Klepper on a brilliant, hilarious, and unfortunately, all-too-accurate take on sexual assault on college campuses and the radically different messages offered to men and women on how to negotiate their college experiences with regard to fun and safety – um, that would be fun for men, and safety for women.   Because, as we know, from all the typical “how to avoid sexual assault advice” out there, we tell men to have a blast, and women to hunker down, look out for red flags and green dots, travel in groups, and hope for the best.  This is exactly the skit I would have done had I not been a double-major-in-psychology-and-theatre-arts-who-dropped-the-theatre-arts-major-to-a-minor due to…well, a total lack of acting ability.  There.  I said it.  Despite my bitterness about my thwarted acting career, I’m no less appreciative of a fabulous performance when I see it.

But you forgot Part II, Jon Stewart, where you show what college women are actually capable of doing in the face of assault.  Show what self-defense looks like.  Show that it can work.  Without that, we are left with only a great parody of the status quo, without reminding everyone what’s WRONG with the status quo:  it’s damaging, it’s sexist, it’s inaccurate, and it’s NOT what we should be communicating to women or men about sexual assault.  So don’t stop there, Jon.  Keep ‘em coming!   Part II…I can see it now:  Jessica Williams and Jordan Klepper in “Transforming Rapists:  The Age of Extinction.  Or “A Million Ways to Have Rape Die Out in the West, And Anywhere Else”.  Or “Kneed for Speed.”  Let’s incentivize that.

Jill Cermele and Martha McCaughey

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